Rate chart

A couple of weeks ago I was cruising the forum, and ran across a discussion about how much to charge.  Someone had given a link to a great rate chart for television & film composing, but now I can't find it.  Does anyone know of such a chart anywhere?

 

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  • I think the situation isn't focused on one composer and their lack of talent vs the rest of the group. Imo- it seems to be more about "why should I pay a plumber to fix my sink when I have so many other plumbers who want to do it for free?"

    This article is from earlier in the year but it explains some of the situation rather well:
    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/winter-film-amp-tv-music-19374


  • Douglas Edward said:
    I think the situation isn't focused on one composer and their lack of talent vs the rest of the group. Imo- it seems to be more about "why should I pay a plumber to fix my sink when I have so many other plumbers who want to do it for free?"

    This article is from earlier in the year but it explains some of the situation rather well:
    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/winter-film-amp-tv-music-19374

    Very true.
    Rate chart
    A couple of weeks ago I was cruising the forum, and ran across a discussion about how much to charge.  Someone had given a link to a great rate chart…
  • It's definitely a confusing subject and I still have a lot to learn!
  • Hey, Jimmy, I've been racking my brain for the last few days to think of a profession that people also like to do for fun, and I've come up with one -- PHOTOGRAPHY! With the digital revolution, many amateurs are now able to do things that only the pros could do years ago. I've heard numerous stories about small individual photo studios going out of business for just that reason, not to mention developing labs. See any in your neighborhood? I'm not complaining, mind you. It's just the nature of progress, unpleasant as it may be for some. There aren't many cobblers or saddlemakers or . . .a multitude of other professions. We're communicating right now without using any kind of postal service, and the USPS just announced some pretty bleak numbers.

    The only hope that I see for a composer, amateur or pro, is to somehow stand waaaay out from the crowd -- a simple but difficult task.


    Jimmy Hinson said:
    I saw a similar discussion to this on FB recently (mostly among Game composers). But it seems the issue of a union creating a minimum bar is really directed towards a lot of people who probably aren't even here in this discussion, and that is the amateur/hobbyist community.

    I've had a very frustrating conversation with several music hobbyists who see no reason to charge a minimum price, or even charge at all. They're happy just to get *exposure*. And what they don't get is that by agreeing to work for so little, it devalues all of us who aren't the so-called Power Elites. (And I say that because it's been my experience that PE's don't need to worry, because companies will gladly pay whatever amount just to get that big name on their product. Our team recently lost a gig because they decided after we'd submitted our demo that they'd rather just hire the film composer who they were using as a style template in the creative directive.) But back to my point, I come from a community that contains a vast number of hobbyist musicians, and many of them are tickled pink just to get their name out there at all, so they'll happily work for peanuts or nothing, and as I'm sure most of us here would agree that while that may affect some of us less than others, it's still just not really very good for any of us.

    I've always used the analogy that let's say that for whatever reason, I found some unlikely job like database management or software coding outrageously fun to the point that I did it in my spare time, and so I went and found a company that had employees that did such and I told the boss "Hey, I'm just happy to do this stuff, I'll gladly do it for free!" that it would negatively impact the workers in that industry. Naturally, that's pretty unrealistic; it just doesn't happen. There's not going to be someone who knows how to perform surgery who offers to work for a hospital for free because they just like to do it and want recognition, thus putting actual surgeon's out of work. (I know there's all kinds of legal etc reasons why that would never happen, but just stick to my principle, ok?) ;-) But yet it happens every day in the music industry.

    So the problem with wanting a standard minimum industry wage is that it applies to two different groups, really. As Lisa said, the folks who are professional and business-savvy probably aren't going to be willing to work for silly or insulting wages or terms. Therefore, setting a minimum could potentially tempt their clients to pay them less than they might negotiate on their own. On the other hand, we have all these folks (some are naive, some simply don't care, some just want another item for their credit list, and some might just be desperate for ANYTHING) who are willing to undercut their fellow composers intentionally or accidentally, and then the potential hazard is clients finding out that they can get the music for their project for practically nothing.

    I'm not offering any kind of solution, I honestly have no idea what should be done at this point. I think we all realize that the industry has changed drastically in the past years/decade(s), and I think those of us who it's affected the most negatively are simply concerned about the future, and that's definitely a fair perspective to take. Likewise, it's also reasonable to be concerned about the present, and if somebody is making a reasonable living now, then why bother worrying about the state of the future industry? Maybe in 5, 10, or X years software will be so easy and"click-a-button-and-out-comes-a-soundtrack-y" that virtually none of us will have work, and THAT'S what we should all be worrying about; who knows?

    In the meanwhile, I enjoy reading these discussions, because there are good points to ponder on both sides. I wish I had some good actual insight to offer :P I will say that I think there *is* actually some sort of happy medium to be found somewhere in all this, I'm just not positive what it is yet. :) I do think looking to the future is a great thing though, because many of the most successful people in the history of mankind have been insightful folks who have done just that. Worrying about problems before they're unavoidably upon us will always make things easier than waiting until we have no other choice than to deal with them, and I think that's kind of what Chris is going for.

    Oh, and BTW, 98% of all the professional work I've done has been in FL "Fruity Loops" Studio ;) Don't be hatin' yo! lol
    Rate chart
    A couple of weeks ago I was cruising the forum, and ran across a discussion about how much to charge.  Someone had given a link to a great rate chart…
  • Chris, the people at the top may not have gotten there because of musical talent, but I doubt they arrived without it.

    I read somewhere that 95% of musicians are amateur. Making a living at it or not, musicianship is what makes you a musician. You ever been to a big bluegrass festival? No many pros there, but man, oh, man some of those folks can play.
  • You've got some really good points, I've got to say. A couple of films that I thought were not mediocre in music are Sherlock Holmes and Avatar.



    Chris Alpiar said:
    Well I have heard nothing since the lord of the rings films that showcases anything other than utter mediocrity in film music. Big productions with huge teams of technicians who have developed the exact music factory output to match the picture emotion of course, but musically just mediocre to downright lame. And TV is even worse with the lovely law and order KA-CHUNGgggg and then random legato contrabass to express building tension. Its just a very very sad thing to me. While the folks getting hired in film and tv will have to have technical chops to use a DAW and understand the basics of film music and the formulaic approach, but today this can easily be accomplished by chimpanzees that are trained to push buttons on a computer. The days of really bein in tune with the fine nuance of orchestral writing and the finer nuance of writing poignant creative music are leaving the building. So while I do not blame the folks who either have no musical skill or standards or the ones that have let the man of hollywood dictate the loss of those standards, it is still up to us all to support the art of composing. Embracing technology and current trends but to maintain a standard and demand the appropriate time/ budget/ crew to do the real job and not just this mediocre bare minimum. This starts with organizing ALL composers, big names, small name pros, students and hopefuls.

  • Les Harper said:
    Hey, Jimmy, I've been racking my brain for the last few days to think of a profession that people also like to do for fun, and I've come up with one -- PHOTOGRAPHY! With the digital revolution, many amateurs are now able to do things that only the pros could do years ago. I've heard numerous stories about small individual photo studios going out of business for just that reason, not to mention developing labs. See any in your neighborhood? I'm not complaining, mind you. It's just the nature of progress, unpleasant as it may be for some. There aren't many cobblers or saddlemakers or . . .a multitude of other professions. We're communicating right now without using any kind of postal service, and the USPS just announced some pretty bleak numbers.

    The only hope that I see for a composer, amateur or pro, is to somehow stand waaaay out from the crowd -- a simple but difficult task.


    Ack, I step away for a day and now I'm way behind :)

    That's true, and great parallel example that I overlooked. And similar to our plight, the reason for all the hobbyist is the fact that professional photography gear is much cheaper and easier to use/learn than it used to be. Seeing as every Mac comes with Garageband and a slew of royalty free loops etc for example, suddenly people who would have never dabbled in composition are now churning out all kinds of stuff. And people who are even slightly inclined might go out and pick up a copy of Stylus and a handful of loops and basically the same result occurs.

    Anyway, I think Douglas said essentially what I was saying with his plumber analogy.



    Lisa Smolen said:
    So you have musicians who are educated making a living against those who are not. You get what you pay for. You want "real" music, hire a trained musician. You want "music" hire some guy who started in music in his 20's. What's bringing down the quality of music isn't the actual composers being business savvy or getting high rates for quality music, it's the untrained lot at the bottom complaining about not making the big bucks. There's a good reason why they're not making big money - because training is obvious to those who have any sort of awareness (i.e. producers, studio execs, etc.).

    Lisa, I'm going to have to object to this paragraph pretty fervently. First of all, by that logic you're basically saying people who decide later in life that they want to compose have no right to be successful over people who decided when they were younger, or who have formally studied the arts etc. You're leaving talent and intuition completely out of the equation. There have been many super talented and successful composers who started out doing something totally different than music. Second, we're not talking about the quality of music being affected, we're talking about the VALUE. Big big difference. The people concerned about not getting fair wages are not necessarily schmucks who don't know a treble clef from a ham sandwich. But rather it's people who are losing work to the fact that clients are finding ways to get it for far less than they should. And while it's nice to think that skilled and talented composers will always triumph over those who aren't as good when it comes to landing work, it's been getting away from that lately. Things like music software have sort of negatively equalized the writing ability needed for projects that once called for your "trained" musicians. Not every company needs Zimmer or Newman, so what happens when a rookie can throw together a bunch of loops that sound reasonably on par with what someone else actually creates from scratch, and then gives it away because it's just a hobby or in exchange for *exposure*, then suddenly that client has a playing card to value the music less.

    ****

    The more I think of it, I think a minimum price really won't affect successful people negatively in the way people like Lisa think they will, and here's why. By setting a reasonable standard minimum wage, it's not suddenly bumping up all the not-good composers to earn a certain wage, it's setting a wage that makes clients more inclined to hire the people who are actually worth it. If the standard for video games is let say $800/minute then the developer is going to hire somebody who's worth at least $800 a minute. They're not going to go with the guy who's worth $25/minute and pay him 32x more than he's worth. To me, I don't see how a minimum wage protects the weak but rather filters them out rather than allowing them to continue diluting the field.

    Of course, minimum wage and/or union or not, I still worry about all the ways that people will undercut others anytime the opportunity is available. I'm not sure a union would fix that or not.

    Alright, time to catch up on the rest of the discussion now :)
  • Chris Alpiar said:
    Well I have heard nothing since the lord of the rings films that showcases anything other than utter mediocrity in film music. Big productions with huge teams of technicians who have developed the exact music factory output to match the picture emotion of course, but musically just mediocre to downright lame. And TV is even worse with the lovely law and order KA-CHUNGgggg and then random legato contrabass to express building tension. Its just a very very sad thing to me. While the folks getting hired in film and tv will have to have technical chops to use a DAW and understand the basics of film music and the formulaic approach, but today this can easily be accomplished by chimpanzees that are trained to push buttons on a computer. The days of really bein in tune with the fine nuance of orchestral writing and the finer nuance of writing poignant creative music are leaving the building. So while I do not blame the folks who either have no musical skill or standards or the ones that have let the man of hollywood dictate the loss of those standards, it is still up to us all to support the art of composing. Embracing technology and current trends but to maintain a standard and demand the appropriate time/ budget/ crew to do the real job and not just this mediocre bare minimum. This starts with organizing ALL composers, big names, small name pros, students and hopefuls.

    Now I'm not sure I agree with this either. For modern film, producers are looking for what's going to appeal, and that's all. It doesn't mean that it's always mediocre, that's just not a particularly fair thing to say :P Granted, I'll definitely concede that not everything we hear in AAA Hollywood blockbusters is solid gold, but it doesn't mean that nobody's written good music in film in the past decade.

    Also, concerning my last post, it looks like you guys sort of touched up on what a bit of my response was anyway.

    One thing that hasn't been brought up yet (that I'm aware) is the topic of multi-composer studios. Consider Hans Zimmer's Remote Control Productions. Hans Zimmer is often credited as the composer of something when in actuality he might write 5 minutes of music and have a team of "lesser names" finish it. So when anyone says "Companies will pay for the big names" etc, that's sort of true and not true. They'll pay to have a name on their project, but that name might not be the primary composer, and yet they'll still get credited a such. That's really just not right.

    Consider Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe are listed as the composers, but there are in actuality FOURTEEN composers who worked on it. Hans Zimmer only wrote like a 3 minute theme, and yet, he's credited above the actual working force behind the soundtrack? That's not right... :(
  • I just now realized that I think this thread could probably be branched into 2 separate discussions: 1 for composition and the other for performance. It's making the debate more confusing because it seems like the two are being interchanged without warning and I don't think they are entirely one in the same :P

    Lisa Smolen said:
    Perhaps I'm biased toward people who spend their lives studying music as opposed to people who are told they are "good at it" then try to make a living against trained people. I am surrounded by musicians that are highly trained at some of the most prestigious music schools in the country, the mere idea of someone who picked up a violin at 25 suddenly playing on par with the rest of them is so incredibly rare. Talent for art doesn't just surface as an adult - it's demonstrated early in childhood (just like propensity for math, language, sport, etc.). I just find it very difficult to look at those with no training with the same eye as those who have it. Training doesn't guarantee success nor is it an indication of talent, but it does at least show discipline & dedication.

  • But for the sake of the discussion, the issues we're encountering and discussing aren't always compatibly interchangeable. You're throwing out an example of a violinist who picks up a violin at age whatever competing with those who have studied it for X many more years, and to be fair, that really has no relevance to the issue of say, a composer looking to earn a set wage from a client.

    They're both great discussions, but it doesn't make sense to talk about them like they're the same issue just because they both pertain to music :)
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